By Gregg Jones

Union Missourian Editor

City officials have said it is important to keep the railroad that runs through Union open for freight.

That is why the board of aldermen Monday approved a resolution supporting the sale of the railroad to an entity that will keep the line functioning.

Ameren Missouri is selling a portion of the Missouri Central Railroad, including the part that runs through Union.

The Franklin County Commission also approved a similar resolution Tuesday.

Central Midland Railway (CMR) operates the railroad now, and has expressed interest in purchasing it, according to Community Development Director Graves.

Bids for the purchase of the railroad must be submitted to Ameren by mid-July, he added.

During Monday’s board meeting, a St. Louis area investor said there is also potential for tourism if Ameren sells the railway through Union to his group of investors.

Richard McIntosh, a strategic government consultant based in Jefferson City, said he has partnered with other investors who want to bring the railroad tourism industry to the St. Louis area.

He explained to Union aldermen Monday that railway tourism would be successful in this region, and the key is for his group to purchase part of the Ameren Missouri-owned railroad.

“There is a huge tourism draw,” McIntosh said.

If the railway is purchased by the McIntosh group or CMR it would also remain open for freight, Graves has said.

That is important to economic growth in Union.

There also is interest in the railroad by some “scrappers” who would purchase it for the metal tracks.

“We really don’t think that’s in anybody’s best interest,” said McIntosh. “We think we’ve got all the right elements to be successful.”

The rail line serves nine customers from the area of Interstate 170 and Olive Road in Overland, west to Union.

Four of those customers are in Union, including Silgan Plastic Food Containers, formerly Rexam Containers; TOPS, formerly Esselte; Buddeez, formerly American Plastics; and Hall Brothers Lumber Co.

Rail tourism could include dinner trips into the St. Louis area, or holiday-themed railcars coming to Union.

McIntosh noted that one of the investors with his group has the right to use the trademarks “Polar Express,” “Thomas the Tank Engine,” the “Lone Ranger” and other characters and stories.